Virginia, US: Citizens have a constitutional right to SPAM

Authorities claim that Jeremy Jaynes sent up to 10 million unsolicited bulk e-mail messages a day from his home in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2004, he was charged in Virginia due to the location of the AOL servers that he used to send the messages. He became the first person in the United States to be convicted of a felony for sending SPAM but his 9 year prison sentence was overturned in court today. The Virginia Supreme Court decided that Virginia's anti-spam law violated his constitutional right to SPAM given the First Amendment's free speech protections.

This decision has the immediate effect of making Virginia's anti-spam laws unconstitutional and it certainly is a blow for the "War on SPAM". Up to 90% of internet email traffic is considered to be SPAM and it takes a significant chunk of network bandwidth while offering regular users little to nothing in return. In fact, managing SPAM can be both an expensive and labor-consuming activity.

Even if Virginia's anti-spam laws are now unconstitutional, the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 is in place to prevent further abuses from unsolicited bulk e-mail messages from anywhere inside the United States but that act cannot be applied to Jeremy Jaynes because it is not retroactive to when the allegations took place.

Jaynes' lawyer was able to argue that his commercial messages infringed on political and religious speech. Perhaps he convinced the judge that Jaynes worships money itself.

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